Best Clincher Bicycle Tire for a Road Bike: 2013 Continental Grand Prix 4000 S

Continental Grand Prix 4000 S review

Looking for the very best road bike tire, period? In most cases when you talk about bicycle tires, you have to be more specific and say something like the best tire for training, or the best tire for racing, or the best tire for puncture resistance. But with the Continental Grand Prix 4000 S, you really get the best tire for road bikes, period.

I have been riding Continental tires since the late 1980s, and in my opinion they have always made the best all around road bike tires. Every time I’ve tried out something else that I think is better, I’ll usually get 3 flats in a week and give up in frustration and throw away whatever tire it was that I was trying.

The Grand Prix 4000 S is the flagship top of the line clincher tire from Continental. If it isn’t the most expensive clincher tire that they make, it’s up there near the top.

I used to ride Continental Gatorskins, because I would never, ever flat with them. I detest changing flats. In my opinion, any weight savings from a tire are worthless if you end up flatting on your ride.

But they talked me into trying the Grand Prix 4000 S at my local bike shop, explaining to me that it’s a lighter tire that is extremely grippy that is still almost as puncture resistant as the Gatorskins.

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? How can it be light and grippy, and still have a long life and never flat?

One reason is the special “Black Chili” rubber compound developed by Continental. It grips well on both wet and dry asphalt, but somehow still doesn’t wear out quickly. I rode 10,000 miles in 2012 and only went through two sets of Grand Prix 4000 S tires. And I kept one of the front tires that I replaced, because it still has a enough tread that I could put another 1,000 or more miles on it if I ever accidentally ruin a tire and need a spare until I buy a brand new replacement.

The reason they never flat is a layer of Vectran, which is some material that is like Kevlar, but different. Maybe Vectran is not quite as puncture resistant as Kevlar, because the Gatorskin tires use Kevlar, and those are sold as Continental’s most puncture resistant tires. But I can tell you from experience that Vectran is good enough!

I typically ride thousands of miles without ever flatting. If I do flat on my Grand Prix 4000 S tires, it’s usually because I’ve ridden them after they have worn out to the point of replacement. At more than $50 per tire, you can probably understand why I like to get every last mile out of them before I change them.

Let’s talk about the expense of these tires. In my opinion, these tires are worth every penny. These are high end racing tires. They have very low rolling resistance. They only weigh just more than 200 grams. They stick like crazy in the corners, even when it’s wet. But they still wear out slowly, and they almost never flat. What other high end racing tires can you train on and not worry about wearing them out too quickly or flatting too often?

Don’t want to take my word for it? Check out what Tour magazine of Germany concluded after going through a comprehensive test of a huge number of different bike tire brands.

Grand Prix 4000S was the most consistant tyre with a weight of 207 grams on the test sample. Its rolling resistance measured in at 34.3 watts, beating even the lighweight race only tyres from the competitors.

The speed at which the GP4000S reached on the wet corner was 33 km/h, almost the same as our wet specific GP4Season, and higher than its main competitors. The time it took a sharp screwdriver to penetrate the GP4000s through the tread at a load of 35 kg was three minutes. In fact the test was stopped prior to any penetration as three minutes was defined by the magazine as a ‘pass’. Only two other brands also attained a pass grade here.

The Grand Prix 4000S comes in 700 x 23 and 700 x 25. I recommend the 700 x 25, which gives you an extremely plush, grippy ride with lower rolling resistance than a 23.

What? How can a wider tire have less rolling resistance? Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Read this article by Lennard Zinn on Velonews, and this other article that goes into more detail.

Here’s another secret that you’ll learn from those Velonews articles. Running a lower tire pressure also gives you lower rolling resistance than running them at maximum pressure. I run mine at 95 psi in the front and the back. Maximum pressure for the Grand Prix 4000S is 120 psi.

If you want to improve your ride quality, you won’t believe how much safer, smoother, and more comfortable you will feel riding a 700 x 25 tire at 95 pounds. Cornering is like riding on rails, and the ride is plush and less fatiguing than getting beat up by overinflated tires that are hard as a rock. And yet it still rolls faster! Try it, and you’ll never go back to max pressure again.

Do you agree with my choice for the best road bike tire ever? Disagree and think there’s a better bicycle tire out there? Leave a comment and let everyone know!

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